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Zeman to meet key players in political crisis later this week

President Miloš Zeman is to hold meetings later this week with key players in the country’s ongoing political crisis. His spokesman said that the head of state would welcome Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO to Prague Castle on Thursday at 5 pm. The following day Mr. Zeman will play host to Social Democrats chairman Jan Hamáček and the party’s minister of culture, Antonín Staněk, at his Lány residence at 3 pm.

The president has refused to accept the resignation of Mr. Staněk, a move that the Social Democrats insist on. They say they may quit the coalition government if Mr. Babiš doesn’t force Mr. Zeman to act. However, the PM shows no signs of doing so.

No progress was made during talks between the president and the heads of the two coalition parties last week. The Czech constitution says the president must remove a minister at the request of the prime minister, though it does not set a deadline for this.

Opposition to take Zeman to court over refusal to accept ministerial resignation

Opposition politicians are planning to take President Miloš Zeman to the Constitutional Court over his refusal to accept the resignation of a minister, despite being requested to dismiss him so by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. The head of the Mayors and Independents party, Vít Rakušan, said it was the last instrument at their disposal to curb the head of state’s arbitrary behaviour, iDnes.cz reported.

Mr. Rakušan said when the prime minister was weak the whole country was the loser, warning that the country was headed for a quasi-presidential system.

Miroslav Kalousek of TOP 09 said his party would back the petition to the Constitutional Court.

The Civic Democrats have called for a return to the previous system under which the president was elected by Parliament not the public. However, the Mayors and Independents say the Constitution should not be amended just because of one bad experience.

President Zeman has refused to accept the resignation of the minister of culture, Antonín Staněk.

A group of senators is also planning to launch a complaint against Mr. Zeman at the Constitutional Court. They say they will decide on its final form after he meets Mr. Babiš, Mr. Hamáček and Mr. Staněk later this week.

Communist boss says reconstructed Babiš cabinet would not need confidence vote

If the Social Democrats quit the government and the cabinet is reconstructed, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO would not need to seek a fresh vote of confidence, the Communist Party’s Vojtěch Filip said on Tuesday. Mr. Filip said the Social Democrats had around a third of the seats in cabinet, meaning it would not be a major change.

The Communist Party chief said if other parties disagreed with this they could seek a vote of no-confidence. The Babiš government survived such a show of hands for the second time two weeks ago.

The Social Democrats are threatening to pull out of the coalition over the refusal of ANO leader Babiš to force the president to accept the resignation of the party’s arts minister.

21 August set to become holiday marking 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia

The Czech government has backed a proposal by some 90 MPs to proclaim 21 August, the date of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops, a national holiday – Remembrance Day.

The amendment to the law on national holidays will be put to a vote in the lower house of Parliament in the coming days. It backed by MPs spanning all parties, except the Communists.

According to its authors, the invasion of 20 to 21 August 1968 was among the most tragic dates in contemporary Czechoslovak history, for having crushed the Prague Spring reforms.

Rare Barbary lion cubs born in Czech zoo

Two Barbary lion cubs have been born in Dvůr Králové Zoo, an important breeder of large African mammals since the 1970s.

The cubs, one male and one female, have not yet been named. They were born in mid-May to a two-year old lioness named Khalila and a seven-year-old male named Bart.

The zoo did not announce the birth until it was clear they were healthy.

Barbary lions are a subspecies believed to have been extinct in the wild since the 1960s. Fewer than 100 are estimated to live in captivity.

Renée Fleming playing Prague concert marking anniversary fall of communism

US opera star Renée Fleming will perform a special concert in Prague on Tuesday celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. She will appear at the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Elli Jaffe.

Fleming, whose grandparents on one side were born in Prague, first sang in the Czech Republic in 1996. In 2009 she helped mark the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in a show organised by Václav Havel at which Joan Baez and Lou Reed also played.

UK singer Ed Sheeran draws 150,000 over two nights

Some 150,000 people attended two concerts by UK singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran in Prague on Sunday and Monday night, the organisers said. Tickets for the first show sold out within hours so a second one was added for the following evening. Sheeran had previously played at the city’s O2 Arena in 2015.

The biggest single concert seen in Prague saw the Rolling Stones draw a crowd of 130,000 to the city’s Strahov Stadium in 1995. The following year a Michael Jackson performance at Letná Plain was attended by 120,000 people.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be overcast with bright spells in the Czech Republic, with temperatures of up to 20 degrees Celsius. Similar weather is expected on Thursday and Friday before rain at the weekend.